Shakespeare...in love or out, in war and peace, in verse and prose. The man Ben Jonson loved to hate and Dr. Johnson hated to love - the glove-maker's son who was so extraordinary yet anonymous that some eccentric scholars persist in believing he was himself a fiction, that someone else wrote his plays: Christopher Marlowe, perhaps, or Francis Bacon, or maybe the Earl of Oxford. This course investigates William Shakespeare's unique genius. You will read tragedies, histories, comedies, and the so-called "problem plays," as well as representative sonnets. Topics of inquiry may include language, the theatrical and political contests of the English Renaissance, contemporary criticism, and the enduring influence of Shakespeare's work on popular culture.